Why were Indian servicemen fighting at The Somme? What happened to the men whose physical and mental health was irrevocably altered by their experience on the battlefield? What aspects of women’s work on the Home Front did the British Government not want the public to see?
The Education team teamed up with 90 local secondary school students to answer these questions in our special schools event held on Monday 27 June to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of The Somme. Working with St Mark’s Catholic School, Lampton School and Isleworth and Syon School, we delved deep into our collection to discover more about the hidden histories of The Somme Offensive.
The Battle of the Somme features in many schools’ schemes of learning on the First World War. In fact, this episode of history is rather well-traversed in the classrooms of Britain. A quick browse through a textbook or a search through the teachers’ resources on the Times Educational Supplement website reveals an array of student enquiries on the topic of The Somme: ‘Haig: Butcher of the Somme?’, ‘Lions led by donkeys?’, ‘Was the Battle of the Somme necessary?’ and so on.
So, what can a special event at The National Archives offer schools that isn’t already studied effectively in their own classrooms?